Monday, September 30, 2013

Let's withdraw our collective consent

Normally I don't post links, but this is an important one.

"When habitual obedience leads to malignant outcomes, the most responsible actors take personal risks and sacrifice their own comfort by refusing to cooperate with the will of authority. Modern, civilized society is a historical achievement that grew out of countless acts of principled and nonviolent disobedience, courageous power struggles with unjust and corrupted institutions over fundamental moral issues."


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Big Sky

I've written a book of poetry. It's called "Big Sky," and it's 40 poems. And it's epic.

You want it? YOU GOT IT.

Here, on this blog, is the longest of them all  - a teaser, a taste of what the book is all about. If you like this post, then email me @

and I will promptly send you a link to access the full book, with 39 other heart-opening works by yours truly.

After that, after I send you the link and you have the book for your very own... then you decide what you think it's worth, and you can pay that amount to my

paypal account.

Didn't like it? Cool - $0.00. Loved it to pieces and every poem shattered your heart into a bajillion little pieces? Awesome - $100.00. Suggested donation is $20, which is $0.50 per poem. But truly, you pay what you want to - please give whatever amount feels fair to you.

As for me, I'm happy to have finished this project - to have actually compiled 40 pieces of art that I feel are worth sharing.

And without further ado, here's the teaser - a taste of "Big Sky."


How do I become fully present,
become real?

Through the creative force of Love.
I am made real only in the action/activity of loving.

Without that I’m a shadow.
I’m just an illusion,
an impotent ghost,
floating along imaginary lines
of identity-construction.

I spin these words
and if anyone else gets excited
it’s only ghosts,
and my voice is just the breeze
blowing through some dead thing.

I cannot will my Self alive -
and yet what passes through my hands
in the action of surrender
is creative energy incomprehensible.

As Love exists in my mind
She’s just a whore,
just a thing:
an idea,
a concept to be penetrated.

But when I’m empty of ideas
and She is truly resurrected -
when She’s brought to life
and my words
and my hands
are guided by a wisdom
far beyond what’s possible
for anyone to acquire...
in those moments,
She’s no whore.

In those moments
She’s all there is,
and there is no one else left
to call Her anything.

In those moments
my oscillations
of seeking and finding
fuse and merge
and obliterate
all traces
of this poet
and there is just
radiant -
suffusing all of life
within feeling-distance
with meaning.

It’s why some choose to sit in stillness
their whole lives,
seeking the ocean inside
and hoping the tide will catch them
and drag them Lovewards.

It’s why some do nothing but write,
and write,
and write,
like this poet’s doing now -
wordsmiths painting pictures
that will never do justice to the real thing.

For I cannot will my Self
into existence, after all...
all I can do is cultivate preparedness
until I’m obliterated,
and so made real,
before being left
to my own devices
once again.

And that leaving,
Her ceaseless coming and going,
makes me think She must trust me.

Because while She comes and goes
here I remain,
irrefutable -
so whenever She leaves me to my own devices
I assume there must be a wisdom at work.

There’s always some vague clue lingering within,
when She’s gone...
some scent,
some dimly-sensed tickle
in the back left corner of my skull,
something thin between the earth
and the soles of my feet
pressing me upwards,
not quite allowing me to forget.

It’s whatever She leaves me with
so that I don’t confuse myself too much -
a recollection,
so I remember that
whenever I resume thinking about Her
as an abstraction,
as an object,
I don’t go too far in that direction.
It’s Her gift of remembrance,
a trace of Her presence
intended to let me know
that no matter how many poems I write,
this poem-writing will not be ‘it.’

And so the question,
dear poet,
the question:

“How do I become fully present,
become real?”

has just one ache of an answer,

“You cannot.”

You cannot will yourself alive.

There’s nothing you can do,
it’s not within your power,
even with pen and paper.

Real is something you become,
like being born.

To be born embodied is one thing,
but to be brought to life,
in Love,
is something quite different.

No parents,
and no fornication
preface this much greater miracle -
just our choice to surrender
and the unknown capacities
of our divinely human heart.

YES I am impotent
and YES there is wisdom in that,
so cry I’ll it out in prayer.

I’ll weep with impotence
and rejoice in the possibility
of Her coming,
and I will not for one second
presume to have plotted the course
of Her movements.
Love is not navigable,
not in any linear fashion.

I try to follow forms, and shapes -
things I hope
will lead me to Her...
but instead She sneaks up on me,
and I am always surprised.

Not to say not to follow the forms!
I will keep to my practices,
and whatever else it is
that helps me remember
that She is always there,
looking out at me
through the eyes
of everyone I meet.

I believe our own
small kindnesses
to each other
may save us,
in the end...

for that may be
what wins Her heart
and moves Love to come,
to come and to stay with us,

once and for all.


... ... ...want the other 39 poems for your very own? Please email me at, have a read, and then pay what you feel.



Thursday, September 12, 2013

i done fucked up

this post may sound a bit rough - that's how i feel at the moment. i'm sitting with the resonances of a pretty massive learning, and it's still digesting. i want to put my ignorance on full display, because it's a lesson that's worth sharing.

for anyone out there who's read my past writings, i should have said these things before:

1. thank you

2. know that my tendency is to think that i've got it figured out, and then cling to that idea, right up until life smacks me across the face with my own misunderstanding. so bear that in mind whenever you read anything of mine

here's the latest 'smacked-across-the-face' story.

if you didn't know already, i'm in australia - alice springs, specifically. i came here to complete a TaKeTiNa teacher-training, and also to 'find myself.' (TaKeTiNa is this shamanic-rhythmic-meditativey thing. it's totally awesome.)

i'm currently a poor bastard with no money to my name and a tourist visa that's expiring soon, so at the moment i've got a powerful need to earn some dough and fly myself back to the states. with limited options, i've been kicking around one idea after idea, none of which have worked out yet.

also, i love dancing. dancing has always been my number 1, sure-fire way of getting out of my head as well helping me to process stuff and feel empowered. so when i found out there was a 24-hour dance marathon happening here in alice springs, it was an immediate "yes!"

as the marathon approached and i still hadn't earned my airfare home, i had an idea: i would use the marathon as a fundraiser! after all, that was part of the point - people could fundraise if they wanted to, the team i was on wasn't fundraising for anything else, and dancing for 24-hours is pretty epic. if nothing else, even if i only made a little money, i figured it would kick-start the dough-earning process.

plus, our team had had our picture in the local paper, with a little headline that read: "Heart Full of Dance."

perfect! i figured i'd snag that photo, make up little fliers with a short explanation of my story, and pass them out to as many people as possible while shaking my shit for a full day. even if only a few people felt connected to my story, at least i was taking action, on the move, trying to make it happen.

so i made up little fliers and printed up a bunch. i posted the flyer on facebook and announced what i was up to, and that post got a bunch of comments and 30-something 'likes.' people said it was epic, someone called me a dance hero, friends and family back home were totally supportive.

i figured this was a good omen - all signs pointed to "mission accomplished."

the morning of the marathon i showed up and started dancing, and the vibe was awesome. families, randoms, a crew of developmentally disabled people totally getting down on the dancefloor... from hour # 1 it was one of the best, most egalitarian dance floors i've ever been on. i figured i'd start passing out flyers once it had been going on for awhile, but something about my plan wasn't sitting right. i had another look at the flyer and realized the obvious - that picture from the paper wasn't just a picture of me, it was a picture of me and 3 other people. whoops.

so i checked in with my team members, one at a time, and found out that they were cool with me passing out their picture. ok, sweet - game on.

but something still wasn't sitting right. i kept looking around wondering how to start engaging people, but everyone was having a seriously awesome time already. trying to talk to someone who's joyfully dancing their butt off about my money-story seemed, well... lame.

talking to my teammates also made me realize i hadn't checked in with the event organizers, either. i'd been told i could fundraise when i registered, and my idea had made sense in my head, but now, here at the marathon, my idea didn't seem to fit. so i asked the organizer who was on-duty at the time: "i totally get it." she said. she said she understood my situation, and she was cool with me fundraising, but she just needed to check in with her co-organizer, who would be there in an hour or two.

ok, good... maybe this will work out after all. because i need to get home, right? and i don't have a lot of options... my time to make money is running out, quick. i've got like 10 days left in alice springs before i go to sydney for another taketina teacher-training, and after that my visa expires, so fuckin fuck: now is the time!

fast forward a few hours - the other organizer shows up, hears the story, and says "no way."

patiently, she explained it to me: nobody is allowed to fundraise for personal gain. if i wanted to fundraise for a charitable organization, cool - i should've gotten pledges beforehand. too late now, and i can't ask for personal money anyway - this event is about the community coming together and having fun, not about me.

"but..." i said.

she explained it to me again. patiently.

"but..." i said.

so she explained it again.

and i got it. i mean, i didn't REALLY get it - not that full-bodied sort of "OH!" of understanding that rings true in every cell. i didn't get it that way, because i was still clinging to this idea that this marathon was going to jump-start my getting home goal. i knew everything she was saying was right on - she was so right. but i did not want to hear it.

she even apologized, and said that she could understand my situation - but this event just wasn't about me. it was about the community.

at that point, still feeling resistant and selfish, i think the last thing i said to her was: "ok, thank you. it's your event." then i went back inside to the dancefloor.

we were on like hour number 4, and my balloon had totally deflated. all i could think about was my need to get home - my need to somehow make that airfare money in the next 10 days. i shrank down into the tiny space in my own head, and while all around me there were happy, dancing people, i was feeling small and sullen. i stayed on for a few more hours, faking it, until i couldn't fake it anymore and i left.

i had blasted this announcement off to friends and family everywhere - "i'm gonna dance for 24 hours as part of my getting home mission, please support me!" and they totally had, sending huge encouragement and positivity. and now it's only hour # 6 and here i am, riding away because, honestly, i don't want to face the massive, ugly truth staring me in the face: it's just not about me.

i couldn't make that event about me. i wasn't allowed to do that, because it's just not cool. doesn't matter what my personal story is, or how much i'm freaking out trying to figure out how things are going to be ok a month from now. nothing gives me the right to turn that communal event into an individual one.

i got back, sat down and started eating, and lost it. i'm used to crying (i do it a lot) but this was intense even for me. what was going on, at some deep level, was a really intense conflict between a recognition that making it about me = lame, and a fear that not making it about me = i don't get what i need.

and it wasn't just about this dance marathon, either... this was a fundamental worldview issue. i've been blogging about how we're all one, about unity, about how we need to hold the simultaneous understanding that, somehow, we're both individuals and we're all one thing... and yet when it came right down to it and i this event organizer was basically telling me the same thing i've written about, i didn't want to hear it.

so i bawled. and then i started shouting. i think my prayer circuits get used so often that talking to god has just become a regular thing - it wasn't a big leap to start yelling. i shouted that it was bullshit, and that it wasn't fair. i ranted about how hard it is, and how the hell am i supposed to be able to let go of getting what i need, even for this 24 dance marathon, and still have everything work out ok?

i was being invited, by life, to let go of some deep-level selfishness - a fundamental piece of programming within me, a piece that determines a lot of the ways i think, speak, and act in my relationships. and i didn't want to.

more than that, actually - i was terrified to. i was terrified that if i truly let go of this selfishness, even for just a short time, i won't get what i need and the the basic necessities of my life won't be provided.

but the lesson was absolutely clear - it doesn't get much more obvious than this.

at the end of my shouting, i was curled up into a ball on the floor, pretty much whimpering - wanting to let go, but afraid. i asked how i would get what i need if i let go, and the answer was just a little feeling inside: "trust me."

well, shit. that little feeling inside was just about the clearest response i've ever gotten from god - usually when i finish a prayer and start listening for a response, all that happens is the wind blows, or a dog barks, or i have gas. if god's trying to tell me something via my farts, i have yet to figure out what it is - unless she's saying: "less garlic."

so i got up, finished lunch, did the dishes, took a shower, and went back to the marathon. i left all the little fliers at home, and decided i was going to do the best i could to forget about my individual problems for the next few hours.

when i got back they were on hour # 10, and the dancefloor was awesome. so many people, from alice springs and beyond, all shaking their shit together. the event organizers were righteous - every hour or so they'd get everybody together and lead a little something to get people involved. make a circle and take turns leading a move, or dance in front of the window for the audience, or something fun.

i started looking at everyone around me. i mean really looking at them, not how i normally look. (i'm not sure how i normally look, but this was different.) looking like: "are they having fun? are they ok?"

because i'd had to commit to letting go of my "me me me" story in order to come back, i experienced that dancefloor like i've never experienced any other before. usually i'm on the dancefloor totally focused on processing my own shit and expressing myself. if i connect to someone and we share a dance, cool... but because dance has always been my therapy, when i'm dancing, i'm dancing for me.

it wasn't easy to do it a new way - if i wasn't dancing for me, then what was i dancing for? and gradually, hour after hour, it dawned on me - i was dancing for us.

it wasn't about me, it was about us. i'm not from alice springs, i don't live here. (although i'm starting to wish i did.) but during that marathon, i was a part of that 'us' on the dancefloor. i started looking around at people, and wondering what i could do to help everyone have a better time - to help everyone feel connected, relaxed, and happy.

the answer wasn't anything profound - mostly it wasn't about doing anything in particular. just being silly with other people sometimes, and fully participating 100% whenever somebody was leading a dance or an activity. more than anything else it was about letting go of selfishness... which, on a deeper level, meant letting go of fear. in order to let go of being selfish, i had to decide to trust that i can let "what i need" go (at least for a while) and everything will still be ok.

and here's the happy ending - this marathon was, by far, the most incredible dance experience i've ever had. i've had so many dance experiences - ecstatic, profound, tantric, sacred, divine, epic, and victorious. and this topped them all. it wasn't easy for me to let go of being selfish, it's a pretty strong tendency. but by that 23rd hour, i had - and i don't think i've ever been so happy.

my broke-ness didn't matter anymore - all my personal problems didn't bother me. they were still there, but it was ok - for those few hours i was a part of a group much bigger than myself and, collectively, we were ok. so that fact that "I" wasn't ok wasn't important anymore... because i was part of a "we." and that "we" was totally cool. more than totally cool - beautifully amazing. joyful. so happy, and so full of life.

i missed out on that experience away because i was so consumed with trying to figure my life out. i still am, obviously - i mean, not 'figure my life out,' but at least get myself on a plane back home before my visa expires. but i had lost sight of the bigger picture. for all my blog posts and poems and fancy words, i wasn't getting it. when that event organizer told me that it wasn't about me, i didn't want to listen.

i approached her after it was over, and thanked her, and told her it was a really important lesson for me. she seemed genuinely happy i had been a part of it.

sometimes i can be a slow learner. not when it comes to the simple stuff, like facts and figures, but this kind of stuff: the lessons that really count - the learnings that have the potential to change our entire life, if we let them.

this post represents a new approach for me. usually i write when i think i've figured something out and i and want to share it. after this experience, i'm thinking that i should start writing more about my mistakes, my fuckups, and my misunderstandings. i'm not so proud of those things, but it feels like the only real way forward is to open up the lid of my dark little box of stuff i'm not proud of and talk about it. because i want to learn, and i don't want to be selfish... it's hard for me to believe anyone would actually want to be selfish. but it's also hard for me to change. i don't find it easy, like: "oh, ok... now i won't be selfish anymore." i find it confronting. i find it hard to listen when someone else is correcting me, and i find myself coming up with all sorts of reasons why they're wrong.

so... the end.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

From Dualistic to Holistic

This blog will be building upon the groundwork that has been laid in some of my past writings. I'm sitting with a few truths with a capital "T" at the moment, truths which may initially appear contradictory but which, if embraced as a whole - and not only spoken about but enacted in our relationships with one another - offer us the possibility of outgrowing our global collective cycle of pain and suffering and stepping into a different experience of our shared life.

Truth number 1: No matter our disagreements, the reality of our interconnectedness remains. We all emerge from the same source, and thus the true nature of all of creation is qualitatively identical. While there are (i.e., we are) an infinite number of unique individuated expressions of this one true thing, we remain eternally connected to one another.

Truth number 2: The nature of this connection between us all is such that we live and die as one. We thrive or struggle as one, feast or starve as one, laugh and cry as one. We also live, die, thrive, struggle, feast, starve, laugh, and cry as individuals. As an individual, I experience existence through the lense of being me, Ryan. As a part of the collective Whole, I also experience existence the same way one drop of water experiences being part of a vast ocean - the drop of water experiences itself as the ocean, cooling, warming, ebbing and flowing with the movements of the whole. These two experiences of existence are not contradictory, but simultaneous. To thrive in this world, we must embrace both of them, for each of these two ways of experiencing existence has function and value, and finding a balance between the two of them is necessary in order to balance spirituality with everyday living. With every thought, word, and action, we consciously or unconsciously decide which of the two experiences we want to cultivate in that moment.

Truth number 3: Any dualistic paradigm which understands the world in terms of right and wrong, or good and bad, must, by it's very nature, be based only upon the truth of our individuality. (As opposed to the twin truths of both: our individuality and our unity.) A dualistic paradigm tends to be self-perpetuating and does not offer the possibility of evolving our relationships to one another beyond "I'm right and you're wrong." Within a dualistic paradigm, someone will always be right and someone will always be wrong. There will always be winners and losers, and thus our global collective cycle of pain and suffering will continue.

Truth number 4: An alternative paradigm (holistic as opposed to dualistic) based upon the twin truths of our simultaneous individuality and unity would invite us to behave in ways that

a) take responsibility for our individual participation within the collective

and b) acknowledge and affirm the truth of our unity by consistently committing to building relationships and finding common ground with those who think, feel, and believe differently than us.

Truth number 5: Taking responsibility for our individual participation within the collective while simultaneously committing to staying connected to those who think, feel, and believe differently than us is an incredible challenge and opportunity. In my own personal circumstances, I was born in the United States. Upon returning to the United States after time away, one way in which I intend on taking responsibility is by not paying income tax. Tax dollars in the United States have been used primarily to pad the pockets of the economic elite (bailout package) and murder people in other countries. (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, now potentially Syria.) I feel angry about how this public money has been used, and angry at the people who have been elected into public servant roles who have decided to take advantage of their position. It would be easy for me to settle into a dualistic understanding that perceives me as right and them as wrong. It would also be easy for me to settle into a dualistic understanding that perceives them as winners and me as a loser, based upon the apparent power dynamics present between us. However, settling into either one of those perspectives will not help to truly break our global collective cycle of pain and suffering. Instead, I feel the need to cultivate a holistic paradigm by committing myself to finding common ground with those people who are doing these things while simultaneously withdrawing my consent and participation.

Truth number 6: Seeking to force another to think, speak, and act in a way you want them to behave, because you believe you are right, does not truly solve the root problem underlying all of the pain and suffering in the world, which is disconnection. Every expression of collective pain and suffering - war, rape, self-abuse, economic manipulation, slavery, etc. - is a symptom of the underlying disease of disconnection. Attempting to force those who are doing the warring and the manipulating to stop, without seeking to find common ground and build a relationship with them, addresses the symptom only. In order to truly heal ourselves of all of these symptoms, we must heal the disease. This necessitates a holistic paradigm.

Truth number 7: Simultaneously, in addition to seeking common ground with those who think, feel, and behave differently than us, we must also withdraw our consent and participation from any and all organizations, governments, processes, and belief systems which engage in acts of violence, whether against humans or any other beings, including the planet herself. If all we do is seek common ground while still monetarily supporting violence, we are not taking responsibility for our individual participation.

Truth number 8: It is our own reluctance to be truly democratic to all the parts of ourselves as individuals (our pain, our darkness, our rage, our shadow, etc) that motivates us to resist building relationships with people we don't like. In this way, our tendency towards a dualistic paradigm informs our relationship to ourselves. We often deny, repress, or oppress our feelings, thoughts, and desires, because our dualistic paradigm informs us that certain feelings are 'good' and others are 'bad.' This leads us into a relationship to self wherein we feel good about ourselves when the feelings within us that we have labeled positive are winning, and bad about ourselves when the feelings within us that we have labeled negative are winning. As long as we continue to choose a dualistic perception of self, we will never truly heal the disease which underlies all of our individual symptoms of pain and suffering.

Truth number 9: The disease which underlies all of our collective symptoms of pain and suffering is the same disease which underlies all of our individual symptoms of pain and suffering - disconnection. In the first instance this disconnection is disconnection from other, and in the second instance this disconnection is disconnection from self.

Truth number 10: As the way we relate to others is a reflection of the way we relate to ourselves, we can begin the process of healing our world by cultivating a non-dualistic, holistic perspective in our relationship to self. Simultaneously, we can begin this process in our relationships to others as well, for the two approaches will be reciprocally beneficial.